Lancaster Community Hospital came one step closer to building a new hospital in Palmdale, as it broke ground on a medical office building near 10th Street West and Palmdale Boulevard. Universal Health Services, which operates Lancaster Community Hospital, has reported that it hopes to have the offices occupied by the end of the year, and a hospital completed in 18 months. The Antelope Valley has been the scene of some of Los Angeles County’s most rapid population growth over the last decade. The valley is the home of 466,000 people, and a new hospital has been a priority for the City of Palmdale for the last several years. Almost four years ago the city agreed to help Universal Health Services with improvements needed for construction. Last month, the City Council approved a $370,000 contract for grading, street work and utilities improvements necessary for the hospital’s construction. The company is still pursuing state approvals for the rest of the hospital’s construction. Universal, however, has run into some trouble with Antelope Valley Hospital, which has plans for its own Palmdale hospital and has talked about seeking a $300 million loan in order to build it. It’s also discussed a tax-supported bond. Antelope Valley Hospital has also considered using eminent domain in order to block Universal’s hospital in Palmdale. Meanwhile, Universal has run advertising spots promoting its Palmdale hospital, highlighting that it would not cost residents any money.